The WLGA has today warned of the serious harm that market turmoil is having on Welsh councils’ already-precarious budgets.
On Friday 23 September, the Chancellor’s mini budget provoked turmoil in the currency and debt markets, adding to the inflationary risk faced by council budgets.
At a meeting of the WLGA Executive Board, council leaders made clear their real concern at this impact on council services’ budgets.
Councillor Andrew Morgan OBE (Rhondda Cynon Taf), WLGA Leader said:
“We have long been clear of the financial storm facing local government. Energy bills, inflation, service demands, and pay costs are all already hitting essential local services hard. That storm could very well become a tsunami without action by UK government to reinstate confidence in the financial markets and to prevent inflation from soaring ever higher. The Chancellor’s mini budget was not some distant, far-away event, but a statement of intent with potent real-life consequences for public services and, in turn, communities.
“Local services are at serious risk as a direct result of these choices. Inflationary pressures, energy costs and impact on borrowing is creating a significant hole in this year’s budgets and worse to come next year. Unless support is forthcoming, councils will have to consider service reductions and loss of jobs as a result. We will do all we can to mitigate this impact and have had discussions with the Minister for Finance and Local Government about the pressures faced. But as the Prime Minister meets today with the Office for Budget Responsibility (OBR), we urge the UK government to take a step back and to consider the effects of their policies on the public and public services.
“We also urgently need clarification around departmental efficiencies and confirmation of sustainable funding heading to Wales from Westminster, so that Welsh Government can invest in vital local services at such a critical time.”